Regional situation harming peace process in Yemen: UN special envoy

Regional situation harming peace process in Yemen: UN special envoy

'Ever since escalation in Red Sea, I have aimed to make sure that no one loses sight of ultimate objective: a peaceful resolution of the conflict in Yemen,' says Hans Grundberg

By Diyar Guldogan

WASHINGTON (AA) - The regional situation is harming peace efforts in Yemen, UN Special Envoy for Yemen Hans Grundberg warned on Thursday.

"Since last December, when the parties agreed to a set of commitments to be operationalized through a UN roadmap, the regional situation has severely complicated this process," Grundberg said at a Security Council meeting on the Middle East situation.

Grundberg said he has continued engagements toward a cease-fire and an inclusive political process that allows warring parties to work out their differences through peaceful means.

"Ever since the escalation in the Red Sea, I have aimed to make sure that no one loses sight of the ultimate objective: a peaceful resolution of the conflict in Yemen.

"However, instead of making tangible progress towards protecting commitments made and finalizing the roadmap, the parties have reverted to a zero-sum game," he said.

In addition to occasional flareups, he said the military situation along the frontlines has remained relatively stable since a truce in April 2022.

"However, the military situation is not sustainable and if the parties continue the current escalatory trajectory. The question is not if, but when, the parties revert to escalation on the battlefield," he warned, urging regional and international stakeholders with power to put their full weight behind direct talks between the parties.

"I am frustrated because we have seen the progress the Yemenis so desperately need overtaken by a regional situation that is beyond our control. I am also concerned by the escalatory measures and rhetoric by the parties. However, I do remain hopeful because, despite everything, we have seen some positive developments," he added.

- Deteriorating banking, economic situation in Yemen

Edem Wosornu, director of the operations and advocacy division at the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), drew attention to the rapidly deteriorating banking and economic situation.

"In recent weeks, both the Houthi de facto authorities and the government of Yemen have issued competing and increasingly stringent directives banning individuals, businesses, and local and international financial institutions from dealing with banks based in areas controlled by the other party," said Wosornu.

She warned that the developments have "potentially catastrophic ramifications."

"They threaten to further fragment and weaken Yemen’s already struggling economy," she said. “The increasingly volatile banking environment has worsened an existing liquidity crisis, making it very difficult for humanitarian organizations to pay staff salaries or to procure and pay for the many services they rely on for their operations.”

- Detention of UN staff

Grundberg and Wosornu demanded the release of UN mission staff who were recently detained by the Houthi group.

Thirteen UN personnel, in addition to five staff members of international NGOs and many more from national NGOs and civil society, were arbitrarily detained last week, by Ansar Allah. They remain in incommunicado detention.

"I urge Ansar Allah to respect the rights of Yemenis under international law and release all UN and NGO personnel immediately and unconditionally and to refrain from the arbitrary detention of civilians," said Grundberg.

Yemen has been beset by violence and chaos since 2014 when Houthi rebels overran much of the country, including the capital, Sanaa. The crisis escalated in 2015 when a Saudi-led military coalition launched a devastating air campaign aimed at rolling back Houthi territorial gains.

Tens of thousands of Yemenis, including numerous civilians, are believed to have been killed in the conflict, while 14 million are at risk of starvation, according to the UN.

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